General Motors Ignition Switch Death Toll Rises to 74

Mar 24, 2015 02:53 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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General Motors' ignition switch compensation fund has approved of seven more death claims linked to defective ignition switches found in some 2.6 million recalled vehicles, raising the total to 74 deaths.

 The number of confirmed injury claims rose to 126 people from 113, according to the GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution website.

Attorney Ken Feinberg was hired by GM to run the compensation fund, which officially launched back in August.

Of the 126 injury claims approved by Feinberg, 11 are for serious injuries and 115 are for "less severe injuries.

Approximately 4,342 claims were submitted to Feinberg's team by the Jan. 31 deadline, including 475 death claims. Of those claims, 1,025 have been ruled ineligible, including 154 death claims. The amount of claims deemed ineligible rose by 185 during the last week.

In total, 1,1326 claims are still under review.

Feinberg said last month that the compensation program will spend until at least "late spring" before it can rule on all of the claims.

GM originally announced last year that 13 deaths were linked to Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other vehicles with ignition switches that can turn off the engine inadvertently and disable power steering and air bags. 

The largest automaker in the U.S. made headlines last year for knowing about the ignition problem for more than a decade before recalling 2.6 million vehicles in Feb. 2014.

Around $400 million was set aside last year by GM to cover its costs of compensation for claims on behalf of those who were injured or killed as a result of the faulty switches. The amount could grow to $600 million.

Financial and medical treatment will also be offered to those with eligible physical injuries from an accident linked to recall cars, according to AFP.

GM has not placed a cap on the amount Feinberg can spend to provide restitution.

Those who agree to payments give up their rights to sue GM, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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